In the 1960s through the ’80s, the racing of the fastest horses on earth began its transition from a small regional sport into a big national industry. If back then there was one constant among the breeders of those horses, it was that many of the fastest horses that made their way into the winner’s circle were bred by Guy Ray Rutland and his wife, Mildred.
Born in Oklahoma on February 3, 1917, Guy Ray married Mildred Evalyn Thomas on October 15, 1938. As a young man, Guy Ray worked as a short-order cook to earn enough money to start making a living with horses. In 1945, he began raising Quarter Horses and cattle on a ranch at Pawhuska, Oklahoma, before moving to Independence, Kansas, in 1950.
The Rutlands ranched at Independence, and for nine years (1967 and 1970-77) were leading breeder by wins. Their record of eight consecutive wins rivals the mark set by Frank Vessels Sr. in the 1950s and ’60s and was not broken until 2001 by Dr. Edward C. Allred.
In more than 60 years of breeding American Quarter Horses, Guy Ray and Mildred bred 48 stakes winners and the race earners of $1,954,309, while Guy Ray in his own name also bred another 13 stakes winners.
The Rutlands did not confine themselves to trying only to breed the fastest horses on earth; they also had the eye and touch for breeding versatile horses, the kind of all-around horse that could pull its weight in the ranch country of the West. They bred 90 Quarter Horses that stood first in halter classes in AQHA shows. Horses from their program also earned money in National Cutting Horse Association arenas and accolades in the Palomino Horse Breeders of America.
“Some people want to race, some like to rope, others like to cut, but I guess I have that running bug,” Guy Ray said. “I like to raise a good-looking racehorse; I would rather have a good-looking racehorse that was AA-rated than to own a sorry-looking AAA racehorse. So I have always tried to breed for and stay with conformation and looks.”
Guy Ray Rutland was inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 2013.
Biography updated as of March 2013.